This time of year the Jacaranda trees which line the entrance street to Forest Lawn, Glendale are in full bloom, raining down purple, creating a royal carpet for all who enter the gates. American flags are flying on street poles, their bright red and white stripes creating an outstanding eye catching contrast to the purple everywhere. The beauty of God’s work over whelms me and I feel the need to capture this moment in time, before proceeding into Holly Terrace to visit Michael. So I stop my car and hop out to snap a few pictures.
It is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. There are American flags out in cities all over the U.S. This is a time to honor those who have served in the military for our country and who fought and died for our freedom. These brave soldiers are being honored in churches, parades and cemeteries. My own parents fought in WWII, my father a 1st Lieutenant in the Army in both Europe and Japan, and my mother, also a Lieutenant WAC, WWII Nurse in Europe. My brother bravely fought in Vietnam and my nephew now serves in the Navy. I hold so much pride and gratitude for all who have served in the military. I know on my own parents graves American flags are proudly and gratefully flying this weekend.
On this Sunday the day before Memorial Day I felt the need to visit Forest Lawn. The American flags line the entrance and when I arrive there is no one present at Holly Terrace. I can’t help but think of how Michael loved this country with all his heart. No matter what came at him or how he was slandered… he loved God and his country. How he stood proud and sang “What More Can I Give” after 9/11. How he just cried when the first black president was elected into office. How other presidents honored him and befriended him. They all saw the real Michael Jackson.
Soon my wonderful friend who I haven’t seen for what feels like at least a few months now joins me and we immediately pick up right where we left off. The conversation always flows so freely about many things but always ultimately ends up about family and Michael Jackson. Soon others arrive to pay respects to Michael Jackson for their first time, having traveled from San Diego, Texas and other areas. It never ceases to amaze me the varied generations that LOVE Michael Jackson, from very young babies to the elderly. Many are present today at Holly Terrace. Old friends also arrive and hugs are shared and it is so good to see so many familiar faces. Today we stay until the sun hits the Ascension windows and lights up the end of the hall and the crypt where Michael is laid to rest. It is my favorite part of the day at Holly Terrace, where the darkness leaves and light spills in around Michael.
Before leaving for the day we make sure to visit Elizabeth Taylor’s burial spot with the beautiful Angel standing above. We stay for the show which displays a beautiful stained glass replica of the Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper" and look closely at the artistry of Michael Angelo’s exact replica statues of Day and Night, Dusk and Dawn and the La Pieta. It all reminds me so much of Michael. His favorite times of the day being dusk and dawn. The master’s work he loved so dearly and admired greatly so close by to where he lays is not lost on me. Both my friend and I smile as we realize Elizabeth Taylor, forever the actress, will forever be present at the entrance where the curtains are drawn and the show plays daily.
Today I am reminded of one of my first stories I wrote for my beautiful, kind friend, Bonnie from MJ-Upbeat. For all those who have never been to Forest Lawn, Glendale and Holly Terrace or may not ever be able to travel here, I am re-posting this story below as it was written and posted in January 2010, with only a few minor changes, in the hopes it will help you to feel a bit closer to Michael at Holly Terrace. As one fan that was visiting on Sunday said through her tears, “This is the closest I will ever have gotten to Michael.”
January 4, 2010
MJ – Upbeat Poster’s Journey to Holly Terrace
I feel blessed to live close by Holly Terrace so I thought I would share today’s visit and the MJ-Upbeat Poster’s journey to Holly Terrace.
It is Sunday, January 3, 2010 and although it is January the sun is bright and warm and there is a brilliant blue sky. It doesn’t feel like winter but like a warm spring day. Many wonderful Southern California Michael Jackson fans are visiting Michael Jackson today to show their L.O.V.E.
The main entrance to Forest Lawn, Glendale, California is a huge imported arch way of filigreed wrought iron and it is still decorated with a giant Christmas wreath for the holidays. It brings to mind the Christmas wreaths MJ would put out for Blanket and the children all year long, which hung on the gates of Neverland and the Carolwood home. Somehow it seems very fitting for it to still be there.
Holly Terrace is up the road and around a bend and as you begin your journey up the lane off to the right is a gorgeous pond with Greek type statue of a beautiful woman with a baby in her arms. The birds chirp every where and one delicately lands for a drink on the floating Lily pads as I snap a picture. Every where you look you are reminded of children. It seems so fitting for Michael Jackson.
I make my way up the small hill and curve around the bend and there I see to the left the back side of Holly Terrace. This is where Michael Jackson rests just inside this wall on the upper level, under the beautiful stained glass window. The light hits the window at all times of the day creating a glow inside the mausoleum just over Michael’s crypt.
The Great Mausoleum is straight ahead. It is a large castle like building with an intricate stone bridge connecting it to the building where Michael Jackson lays. Below is a picture from the Forest Lawn web site as I forgot to capture the picture of the Great Mausoleum from the front. This picture faces the stone bridge and this is where Michael’s hearse took that long heart breaking drive the day of his funeral. Just under the bridge on the left is Holly Terrace.
Here at the Great Mausoleum entrance etched in stone is the Builder’s Creed written by the man who founded Forest Lawn cemeteries. There is an adorable statue of little children with their dog, as well as a breathtaking large statue of Jesus with the little children. I am reminded of Michael in an interview saying “I will never stop helping and loving people the way Jesus said to. He said continue to love, always love, bring on the children, imitate the children, not childish but childlike.”
I make my way under the stone bridge and up the small hill and park at the Sunrise Slope curb just outside the stair way to Holly Terrace. The view looking out over the hill from Holly Terrace is filled with beautiful trees and reminds me of Michael when he spoke in TII about how much he loved trees.
There are already several fans gathered. I retrieve the MJ-Upbeat poster from the back seat and make my way up the entrance to Holly Terrace. I am greeted by Heidi, Robyn and so many others from Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California Face Book Page. It is so wonderful to talk to others who love Michael Jackson.
I offer the pen to some of Michael's fans so they can sign the MJ-Upbeat poster and then my new friend, Robyn, holds it up high, as I march down the road to get a picture of the poster and the Holly Terrace balcony from a distance.
More fans are arriving and both adults and children are very happy to be able to write a note to Michael on the MJ-Upbeat poster. I met Michael Jackson fans from New York, Texas, Japan and I believe it was France and Germany. A wonderful lady who came with her two sons from Japan brought a large bottle filled with 100’s of origami swans and handed them out to the fans with a large portion still left in the jar for Michael.Southern California fans who had been in touch with other fans from around the globe kindly brought items that had been mailed to them. They were all placed at the entrance door to Holly Terrace for Michael. Many had sent pictures, cards and drawings they had hand made, sketched, drawn or painted from all over the world conveying their love and loss of Michael, some from children as young as six years old. Fans arrived throughout the afternoon with flowers and cards. We were told the Christmas tree and all the gifts left in December were inside at Michael’s place. All today’s items too would also be taken in by security at the end of the day.
Someone brought an IPOD and small speakers and Michael’s music is playing. His voice is echoing thru the porch area and just about everyone is singing along. We all know the words to each song even as they fade out at the end we are still singing along. We laugh together. It is beautiful. We all take a turn looking inside the window. It is difficult to see anything because it is very dark inside. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust and if you cup your hands just right you can at first see the lights along the corridor and then the stained glass window at the very end. You focus and then there it is. You can just make out Michael’s beautiful marble crypt at the very end of the hallway under the stained glass window.
Here is a small picture which was not taken today but by someone else. It shows the inside much clearer than any of us saw today with the exception of one very blessed woman, but that is another story which I don’t feel free to share. Let’s just say it was a very rare, moving and spiritual experience for her.
Thank you, Bonnie, I was blessed to represent on behalf of MJ-Upbeat.
by Betty, Lisa and MJFSC
Thanks Lisa Burkes
Thank you so very much for representing MJ-Upbeat and all the fans who visit this web site. You have made us feel as if we were actually there. What a beautiful and heartwarming day. Michael must feel the love as he looks down at his resting place and watches as everyone gathers together in honor of him.
I hope someday I will be able to come and join you at this very special place.You've described it as a type of heaven with the trees and the birds, the statues and all the beautiful scenery, but most of all, I look forward to meeting all the fans and spending time reminiscing about Michael.
Thank you again Betty.
From the bottom of my heart.
MJ-Upbeat.comI would also like to thank Jessica for the use of her beautiful photo used for the poster.
Thank you Jessica. :-)
WE LOVE YOU, MICHAEL!!!